For a long time now Italy has been one of favourite holiday destinations. In fact I like to think I am an ‘expert ‘ on Italy as I have holidayed there so many times!
Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is extremely popular with Irish visitors as there are direct flights to Verona, making it easily accessible. It is also one of those destinations that caters for everyone. It’s really something of a paradox, it’s romantic yet family orientated, quiet yet full of sports activities and also perfectly situated to visit numerous Italian highlights. Garda is just over two hours to both Milan and Venice and only an hour to Verona, so if you want a location that’s central to Italy’s beautiful Cities, then Lake Garda is for you.
If Venice or Milan seem a little too far to attempt on a day trip, Verona is most definitely not. It’s so easy to navigate and has some marvellous sights to see. The amphitheatre or Arena Di Veroni, is stunning, and is in remarkable condition. In fact I thought it was more impressive than the Colosseum in Rome, but maybe I should not say that! You can also visit Juliet’s house and call out to your partner from the balcony where Romeo declared his love. If on the other hand you just want to wander, Verona is visually a beautiful City with plenty of shops and cafes filling the medieval streets in the historic centre.
Of course the Lake itself has so much to offer, each village completely different to the next. The town of Garda is actually quite small, yet attracts many visitors because it is only twenty miles from Verona. If you are only staying for a short time the choice of location is very important, particularly if you want to do some sightseeing. Generally speaking try to stay south if you want to be close to Venice, Milan and Verona. Riva, although a beautiful town at the very north of the Lake, can be quiet a distance if you are planning on taking some excursions. My favourite town is Sirmione.
It’s situated south of the Lake, at the tip of a long peninsula that juts out from the mainland and is a stunning site to see. The old town is dominated by a thirteenth-century almost fairy tale like castle, the Rocca Scaligera. The fortress is open to the public and is well worth the visit. If you are travelling with kids, dont despair, my daughter thought it was like Cinderella’s castle so it’s gives as much pleasure for children as it does for adults. You can choose Sirmione as your holiday resort but bear in mind it will be over run with tourists in peak season so a day trip might be a better option depending on the time of year you visit. If on the other hand you are looking for a quieter village then Bardolino or Limone may be for you. There are actually so many towns to choose from the best way to view them is by water taxi. It takes approximately three hours to drive around the lake but for me the water taxis are much better way to see the quaint villages and towns. Choose the cable car ride from Malcesine to Monte Baldo and watch the colourful parachute jumpers or alternatively relax on the sandy beach of Lazise, one of the best on the Lake, the options are endless.
If you are travelling with kids, Pescheira will probably be your resort of choice. It’s southern location makes is very accessible from the airport and the popular Italian Cities of Verona and Milan. Its pedestrianised streets and Roman ruins make an idyllic setting but its close proximity to Gardaland is the main attraction. This theme park, now owned by Alton Towers, is one of the best in the Mediterranean. If you are staying in Garda for two weeks you may be better to buy an annual pass. This will allow you as many visits as you like with automatic fast pass entry to most of the rides. This is really only the same price as if paying for two trips, so its much better value. If on the other hand one day is enough for you, order your tickets online to beat the queues. It will save you about forty five minutes queuing time in high season. It’s a great park with rides for all ages and I would highly recommend it if you are travelling with kids.
Garda is just one of the many beautiful holiday destinations Italy has to offer but is one that I can safely recommend for everyone. Whether you want to try some fantastic water-sports, visit some stunning Italian cities or simply enjoy a peaceful lakeside setting, Lake Garda has all in abundance.